What do you think of Missouri's new social networking law?
Fri, 12 Aug 2011 17:25:06 GMT —
On August 28th, a controversial new law takes effect in Missouri. The new law is aimed at preventing sexual abuse in schools.
Among other things, it bans teachers from communicating privately online with students using social media.
Some say the law will protect students, others, like the American Civil Liberties Union, say the law is too broad and confusing for schools to implement and enforce.
KRCG's Facebook Crew found out what lawmakers, educators and Facebook itself thinks about the law.
Soon Missouri teachers will not be allowed to use Facebook, Twitter or any other social media sites to communicate privately with their students.
The restrictions come, thanks to a new law called the Amy Hestir Act, named after a Missouri student who was sexually abused by her middle-school teacher.
Missouri State Senator Jane Cunningham, who sponsored the bill, wants to clarify that the new law doesn't altogether ban social media relationships.
"We only prohibit hidden communication between an educator and a student, MO State Senator Jane Cunningham said.
The Missouri Association of School Administrators told me that it supports the new law for two reasons.
One because students will be protected, and two, because it will encourage teachers to communicate in-person with students.
"I think that when a student has a problem there really should be that one on one communication because I think it's the best way for a teacher to learn what's going on in that student's life, Director of Legal Services for MASA Andrea Forlett said. Then hopefully that teacher can provide help."
The American Civil Liberties union is concerned the new law threatens free speech. So they may file an injunction.
"What they're doing is proverbially taking a bazooka to a fly here. They're decimating a large amount of protected speech on an effort to stop a small amount of dangerous speech, ACLU Tony Rothert said.
As for Facebook, the social media giant said it is following the debate closely, and released this statement to CBS news: "it is imperative that this law does not limit schools' and teachers' ability to use technology, to educate Missouri TMs students."
So does this new law make it illegal for teachers and students to text or e-mail each other?
"Each school board will be able to adopt their own policies using electronic communication. The Amy Hestir Act speaks mainly to social media websites, Forlett said.
Some teachers told me Facebook is sometimes the best way to reach students.
So they're worried the new law will cause more problems than it solves.
The new law is thought to be the first of its kind in the nation.
Most other states leave it to the local districts to make policy.
The new Missouri law restricting teachers and students from communicating privately on any social network has been making national headlines. When the law first came to light in early August, KRCG asked Jefferson City Public Schools what they thought and they were not concerned because there was already a district policy in place . Since then, a backlash has begun over the law.
Some Missouri teachers and students are not too thrilled about the new law.So tonight at ten KRCG's Facebook crew talks with experts to see how educators are accepting the new law.